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Effect and Resonance

I am struggling to write stories. At first I thought it was the horror show of the world, brought to light by the fascist regime and collective behavior of those who support it during the past 4 years (and sadly, right up to this moment). I also thought it was due to a change in my commute, which for half of that time was just a much shorter bus ride, and then, with our move to Tacoma, a shift to taking the train. And now, with a zero commute for the past 8 months, there is no “life in transit” as it existed before, and I could point to that as an impediment to my writing. 

As I sat myself down on this chilly November Sunday, with a nice cup of peppermint tea, a napping husband (and two sleeping orange pussycats), I pulled up a random image from the internet and set about to writing; a forcing exercise to write for an hour based on the image, to re-engage my writing muscles and get back into this creative outlet which, along with cooking, is where I channel what used to be funneled into acting. 

What I discovered after attempt after attempt was that everything I wrote was about grief, loss, death, the impermanence of life, and a lot…I mean a LOT…of anger. And like a room full of tuning forks (or particularly nice crystal stemware), the vibrations resonating from all of these emotions rebounded and amplified, getting stronger and louder. For me, not conducive to the kind of writing that makes me happy.

So what now? I am hoping that, by naming the thing, I can start to unravel it. I have some work to do, and by sharing this quite publicly, I am hoping for two things: that anyone else dealing with this miasma of dark emotions knows they are not alone, and that I can hold myself more accountable to do the hard work to emerge from my current state of mind into a place where I can bring some positivity into the world to fight against the vast darkness that threatens to overtake us.

What I Don’t Know and What I Do Know

Black Lives Matter.


If that statement makes you uncomfortable and you don’t, with your whole heart and soul agree with it, then look deeply into your own reflection and know that you have some major work to do on how you feel about your fellow human beings. And if my saying that has you angry at me, then I have no other words for you than I bid you good-bye from my life. I will no longer lend my heart, time, or friendship to anyone who does not support the words and the change that is so deeply needed in our society.

I am neither a doctor nor scientist, so I will not offer advice on how to treat a wound or how to best prevent sickness during a pandemic. I am not a sociologist nor am I a learned historian, so I will not opine about how our collective society was built or why, or how history has led us to this moment. What I am is an experienced and deeply empathetic recruiter, so I will talk about what I might do to make a difference. I hope that it might cause you to think about your personal gifts, training, and experience, and how you can make some sort of impact and change.

When I teach people about interviewing, we always spend some time talking about bias. It is vitally important to understand our own biases during recruiting and hiring in order to effectively interrupt them, and not contribute to the systematic inequities, discrimination, and racism that may result. The National Equity Project wrote about this much more eloquently than I ever could, and you can find a good treatise on it here.

Part of my job, and something that I believe should be the job of every recruiter, is to ensure that decisions made during the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring processes are as free as possible from bias, and the assumptions that come with them. So first, I teach. Then, I challenge and shine a light on behavior that may be biased. And continually check my own thinking and reactions, each and every day.

Like many, I question how I, just one gay, white, Jewish man, can make any sort of difference at all, given how deep and insidious racism against black people is in this country. And the answer arose from my troubled heart this morning that I need to do what I know how to do, and keep saying so, and not let this moment pass into silence. I watched too many of my friends die of AIDS. The phrase “Silence = Death” was a rallying cry for many of us during the darkest times of that particular epidemic of hate, death, and intolerance. And the same is true now.

Black Lives Matter.


Home Story: “The Holly and the Ivy” (1952)

This is not your standard early 1950’s holiday focused movie. Not by a mile. At first, it feels like it might be. Some rather charming, but seemingly one-dimensional characters start us off. But once the entire family is together, bound by the loss of the matriarch and their delicate relationship with their country parson father, the depth of this writing shows up. It will touch your heart and give you pause. I can’t believe we’ve never seen this movie before because in a single viewing, it has joined the ranks of my legion of favorite films. Ralph Richardson’s portrayal of the father is slightly befuddled but comes to a remarkable realization moment that is far beyond expectations. And there is a scene between the two sisters as they do the dishes that is quiet and lovely and devastatingly sad. Please find it and watch it. We watched it on Kanopy which is an amazing platform that you can access with a library card.

MiniHomeStory: “The Black Sleep” (1956)

This was Bela Lugosi’s last project and has not just him but also the amazingly nosed Basil Rathbone and Lon Chaney Jr, along with John Carradine, Akim Tamiroff and, of course, Tor Johnson. It’s classic and silly. For the type and era of film, it has rather nice production values. But seeing the great Bela Lugosi in what is essentially a non speaking role is rather heart breaking.

Train Story: TeeVee Brain

Wrapping my addled brain in some 80’s music, we settle in for the trip home. While Sisters of Mercy sing darkly about dominion and corrosion, I catch a snippet of conversation behind me and it shakes my reality like a dog with a new chew-toy.

He tells her that he can handle it and she shouldn’t worry. She, calmly but forcefully, disagrees and suggests that they collaborate on the solution rather than him doing anything alone. This back and forth continues for a time until he finally acknowledges her reasoning and agrees to her approach.

I assume that they are done and whatever it is that they will be doing will take place after they leave the train. But I am mistaken. Listening to them count down from five, I turn my head to try and see what’s going on when there is a flash of light and in the resulting din of shouting, I hear them finish saying something at the same time and I think I hear the word “activate!” I turn in time to see a rather large, slightly greenish badger dash towards the lower level of the train, and it appears to be covered in armor made of ice. There is a grand kerfuffle as the train arrives at the next station and in another flash and boom, the badger, along with one other passenger, vanish completely.

The Justice League is probably busy with bigger stuff around the globe, so I guess The Wonder Twins are tackling the smaller crime for the moment on the 1519 train home.